District MCAS results reveal ‘substantial’ progress

Sep 19, 2023

The state released the 2023 MCAS results Tuesday, Sept. 19, recognizing Wareham Public Schools among the 62% of institutions making or exceeding “substantial” progress toward targets.

The state evaluates school performance through set targets of achievement, student growth, high school completion, progress toward English proficiency, chronic absenteeism and advanced course completion.

The district’s accountability report states that 70% progress toward these goals has been made and no intervention from the state is necessary at this time. Wareham Elementary School was among 66 schools recognized by the state for its 82% progress this year.

However, the data also reveals more than half of students across all grades are not “meeting or exceeding” scoring expectations in the tested subjects.

Superintendent of Schools Matthew D’Andrea said while there are some areas of growth and achievement to be celebrated, other areas will need more attention this year.

“We'll use that information to help us make adjustments to our instruction and curriculum and try to address those needs and continue to build on those improvements we were able to make this year,” D’Andrea said.

Overall state results indicate improvement in English language arts and math subjects across most grades compared to last year, which is reflected in Wareham’s scores as well.

However, fewer Wareham sixth graders taking the ELA exam and seventh graders taking the math exam were able to meet or exceed scoring expectations this year, according to state data.

MCAS scores following the Covid pandemic have continued to climb, but remain relatively behind the scores from 2019.

For example, of the 125 sixth graders who took the ELA exam, only 22% met or exceeded expectations, which is 30 percentage points lower than 2019 and 6 points lower than last year, according to state data.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, state results for the third grade indicate “a need to remain cautious about incoming testing grades” as those students were in Pre-K and kindergarten during the pandemic.

Of the Wareham third graders who took the ELA and math exams, 32% and 23% exceeded scoring expectations, respectively. On the state level, this achievement was made by 44% and 41% of students on the respective exams.

“We need to look at the things that we as a school district can control, and that we can work on and improve on that will help our students become stronger readers and writers,” D’Andrea said.

He said this includes evaluating the curriculum, instructional strategies as well as the way students who are struggling are identified.

“I'm optimistic that we've made some progress this year, and if we continue doing that, we'll continue to make progress,” he added.

Fourth graders at Wareham Elementary School saw substantial improvement in scores compared to previous years, with 39% of students in ELA and 42% of students in math meeting or exceeding expectations.

These ELA results are up 22 percentage points from last year and up 17 since 2019 and math results show a 20 point and 19 point increase for those respective years.

D’Andrea said the Wareham Elementary School staff were focused on the school’s early grades last academic year, especially in regard to literacy.

“I think we're starting to see that work be fruitful,” he said. “We'll continue to look at that data and try to pull out some of the things that we have done in those areas that have contributed to that and make sure we're using that across.”

On the science exam, fifth and eighth grade scores remained the same compared to 2022, while 10th graders saw a 6 percentage point increase. 

However, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding scoring expectations in the subject area remains low, with 31% of fifth graders and approximately 20% of both fifth graders and 10th graders.

The performance of 10th graders at Upper Cape Regional Technical demonstrated improvement by over 5 percentage points across the three tested subjects, with 56% in ELA, 41% in math and 37% in science meeting or exceeding scoring expectations.

D’Andrea said, “We have some real areas to celebrate and we have some areas that we need to really look at, but overall we're going to use it as information for us to make improvements to what we're doing and we will continue to improve the education that we provide.”